Culture

From vultures to intelligent tea kettles: Highlights from the event TED@Nairobi

TED2013 Talent Search TED@Nairobi

This spring, TED headed on the road, visiting 14 cities across six continents on the hunt for untapped talent. The idea behind the sweeping search: to let you, the TED community, weigh in and vote on which speakers you’d like to see ascend the stage at TED2013. After holding one-night salons in Amsterdam, Bangalore, Doha, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, New York, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Tunis and Vancouver, we couldn’t help but notice that every city’s event had its own unique flavor. And so we’ve asked one audience member from each stop along on the tour to share their memories.

Today, we asked audience member Juliana Rotich of Nairobi, Kenya, to tell us about her experience at TED@Nairobi, which took place on May 5.

Juliana, what three adjectives would you use to describe the event?

Inspiring, interesting, and eye-opening.

Who were the must-see speakers of the night, who you hope TED fans will watch on the TED Talent Search website?

Munir Virani on vultures and conservation. His talk was illuminating, because we normally ignore vultures. It gave me a better appreciation of nature and the importance of conservation. Despite our view of ‘undesirable birds,’ vultures have an important purpose in the natural ecosystem.

Kamau Gachigi on spreading innovation through fab labs. As a techie and a maker, I really liked this talk. It’s important to think about the next generation of makers from Africa — how can we inspire them, help them scale their creations and, most importantly, build businesses out of their innovations. Inspiring. The story of the young man who made an automated tea kettle that sends him an SMS when tea is ready … that is just plain awesome.

Mary Abukutsa Onyango on indigenous vegetables. Locally relevant to Kenyan economy, culture and consumption patterns — which need to change — as the curse of affluenza with diabetes rates rising. It resonated with me because I grew up in rural Kenya, and my grandmother’s traditional vegetables are still my favorite thing to eat. Yet, it’s not easy to buy that at a supermarket or even at a restaurant.

Abdul Kassim’s on aid packages. This talk was great. He showed how ridiculous some of the expensive aid packages implement solutions in Kibera without consulting with locals. They really have no understanding of what the situation is. A must watch for any development practioner, consultant, world bank exec or NGO head.

Lorna Irungu on her three new kidneys. Lorna’s story was quite powerful, in educating people about Lupus.

What was the best moment of the night? 

I loved the interview Chris did with Richard Turere, the young man who created an innovative system to help protect his family’s cows. He is an inspiring person, the idea of doing more with less and finding solutions is one that greatly resonated with me. I also think it will resonate with other young people. His story is a great wake up call to make things, prototype and share.

Which speaker from the night do you want to be your new best friend? 

Richard Turere!

TED2013 Talent Search: TED@Nairobi

Stayed tuned for more audience impressions of TED Talent Search events, coming at you over the next month.

Juliana Rotich’s TEDU talk has been posted. Watch it here »